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Judging righteously

TO judge people merely by their appearance is misleading. The Bible advises against it: ``Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.'' 1 We need to learn to regard others from a spiritual standpoint, as ``the Lord seeth.'' We're told: ``The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.'' 2 As a youth aspiring to contribute to periodicals, I needed a typewriter. Lacking the means to buy one outright, I decided to acquire one on an installment plan. I chose to do this at a particular typewriter shop on the strength of the pleasant looks of the manager. To my dismay, he turned me down flat. With some misgivings I tried another shop where the proprietor was heavy-jowled and rather forbidding in appearance. Without the slightest hesitation he responded to my request to be allowed to buy on installments with a hearty ``Of course you can, my dear boy! We'll soon fix that up for you.'' I learned a useful lesson. Since then I have been wary of judging disposition or character by the color of someone's skin or the size or shape of a body or any other physical characteristic. Judging righteously means judging rightly; and judging rightly, in its deepest sense, means judging according to the divine reality of being, in which everyone's true selfhood is recognized to be spiritual, reflecting the graces of God, divine Love. This does not mean we should ignore the intuitive sense that may warn us to be aware of a flaw in character that would deceive or defraud us, or of a deceptive personality. In this connection, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, observes, ``A wicked man may have an attractive personality.'' 3 We do, however, need to identify our fellow beings as God made them, in His own image and likeness. The correct concept will bless and uplift those with whom we come in contact. The Christian Science textbook, Science and Health by Mrs. Eddy, points out: ``Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy.'' 4 Judging righteously often means judging in direct contradiction of what the material senses are reporting. Social workers have testified from their experience that children often behave badly when they are labeled by adults as bad or unruly. Our correct concept of both children and adults can work wonders. It is not always easy to see good when bad seems prominent, but changing our concept means looking for the divine qualities innate in all God's children, how ever obscured or hidden they may appear to be. Physical attractiveness, by itself, can't be made the basis of a desirable or lasting companionship, however strong the initial impact. Yet people are sometimes impulsively carried away by physical attractions. Clearly, qualities of heart and mind give surer promise of compatibility and permanence. Are we tempted to make a snap judgment of another--even by the clothes he wears? Shakespeare declares that ``the apparel oft proclaims the man.'' 5 This may sometimes seem the case. Yet it is no more reliable a basis than any other element of physicality for an assessment of one's real being. The only true standard of worth is spiritual, presenting man as the very likeness of God. 1 John 7:24. 2 I Samuel 16:7. 3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 491. 4 Ibid., pp. 476-477. 5 Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3.

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